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Former TIPA president Bret Erickson joins J&D Produce

Bret Erickson, who resigned as president of the Texas International Produce Association after seeing the group through its third highly successful Viva Fresh Expo, has joined forces with his friend and colleague Jimmy Bassetti, president of J&D Produce in Edinburg, TX, the TIPA chairman who is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of Viva Fresh.

Bassetti worked with Erickson at TIPA to create the trade show, which was a platform for North American produce buyers to meet with growers from Texas, Mexico and the states surrounding Texas.Bret-Jimmy-BassettiBret Erickson, then president of the Texas International Produce Association when this photo was taken at the 2017 Viva Fresh Expo in April, with J&D Produce President Jimmy Bassetti, who is chairman of TIPA. Erickson has joined J&D as director of business development.

"We are thrilled to have Bret Erickson join the J&D family," Bassetti told The Produce News. "We have worked closely with Bret for the last five years in his former role as the president of the Texas International Produce Association. He understands the challenges that face our business, including a growing shortage of labor, the need for mechanization, water availability, food safety, and changing retail and consumer trends. Bret brings a valuable mix of knowledge and experience that will help position J&D for future growth and success."

Bassetti told The Produce News that J&D grows 6,000 acres of vegetables, with farms scattered in the Rio Grande Valley in a range 80 miles east and west of the company's Edinburgh headquarters and packinghouse. The belt involved with J&D production includes farms that are within 40 miles of the Rio Grande River.

"This enables us to be spread out and have a more consistent supply," he said.

Bassetti added that J&D ships South Texas produce from November to mid-June.

J&D ties into supplies from New Jersey, which is the native home of Bassetti and his partner and wife, Diane, whose father was the late Ralph Dauito Jr. of Ralph Dauito & Sons in Vineland, NJ.

Jimmy Bassetti's produce background included working in his family's Vineland produce brokerage, R&B Produce, which was run by his father, Jim (The Bear) Bassetti.

Beyond New Jersey and Texas, J&D also sources from Georgia, Mexico and Peru.